Emerging Communication Practices in a rural village in Oaxaca, Mexico


I started conducting ethnography in Bicuhini, Oaxaca, in 2007. After the first visit I became fascinated by how the caseta telefonica, the only landline into the village, played a central role in how families communicated with their loved one in the US. I also found out on the first trip that youth were the first adopters of cellphones and they always kept the phone on them even though if they were not able to use it. This was a surprise because the cell signal was not strong in the village and there was very little regional economic opportunities. In the next visit, I teamed up with Barry Brown to explore the possibility of co-creating relevant mobile technologies with the youth in the village. During our second field work visit, we discovered that cellphones were abandoned by youth.  Cellphones were no longer carried around with the youth every where that they went. Many of the youth had switched over to MSN as a primary medium of digital communication.

For the first visit, I went with Leah Muse-Orlinoff, a graduate researcher on entrepenueral migration networks at the Center of Comparative Immigration Studies (CCIS). We were funded the first year with a University of California Institute for Mexico and United States (UC MEXUS) grant and support from CCIS's multi-year  Mexican Migration Field Research Project (MMFRP) project. In the second year of funding, I teamed up with Barry Brown from UC San Diego, Jesus Favela from Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, BC (CICESE), and Gloria Marks from UC Irvine for a larger grant from UC MEXUS. Research assistant, Tanya Menendez,  played a significant research role in the last fieldwork visit in 2010.


Ethnography of the telephone: Changing uses of communication technology in village life and did a great job!MOBILE HCI  2011 (co-authored with Barry Brown) [pdf]

“I didn’t bring my mobile”: changing technology use in a Mexican village (2009) [pdf]